The last time Firehiwot Dado visited New York, the trip went pretty well.
"New York is a very big race, and praise God I won it," said the 2011 women's champion of the ING New York City Marathon this morning, in town again to compete in the NYC Half. "To actually come back here and know that this is the place that I was victorious, I'm very happy about that."
Dado, 28, has a half-marathon personal best of 1:09:26, which should put her among the contenders on Sunday. This will be her first race since breaking the tape in Central Park last November—her first World Marathon Majors victory.
At the starting line in Staten Island last fall, the ING New York City Marathon was a race that Dado did not think she could win. But once the race began to unfold, she said, "I started to think about how I could medal, and then after that it went very well for me.
"It's given me a lot of confidence for my future races," she added. "It's really given me a morale boost. I know that with God's help I can have a major achievement again, and I look forward to running in major races and doing well. Knowing that I have won New York opens a lot of paths for the future."
One of those paths leads straight to Boston: After Sunday, Dado will put the finishing touches on her training for her Boston Marathon debut on April 16. Among her rivals there will be Buzunesh Deba, the New York-based countrywoman she battled in the final mile of the marathon last November, but it is the race's strong tradition among Ethiopians that has captured her focus. As she was asked what it would mean to win in Boston, her face lit up well before the translator began to assist.
"Oh, Boston," she said. "Ever since my manager came to Ethiopia and told me that I had been invited, from that point till now my thoughts are all toward Boston. To have a repeat victory in Boston [after New York] would be really wonderful. After this, when I go back, I will continue to prepare for it. I really want to win, and that's what I'm dreaming of."
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg